Some coaches are meant to be coordinators and others are meant to be head coaches. Just because a coach is successful at one does not guarantee he will be successful at the other. When a person becomes a head coach, it becomes less about x’s and o’s and more about managing people.
As a head coach, you must be able to lead your team through a storm and remain calm. However, at the same time, you will need to be able to be stern enough that the players fear the repercussions that will come if they violate the team’s rules and standards.
There are times that a coach needs to be able to show enough fire to get the teams, individual players or a referee’s attention. As a former basketball coach, I have witnessed several coaches purposely get a technical foul when they felt like the calls were not going their way. I have seen baseball coaches purposely get thrown out of a game to put the umpires on notice and fire up their own team.
In other words, a head coach must have the ability to have control over their emotions.
The SEC has two rookie coaches this season. The University of Florida hired former Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp to be their new head coach. Vanderbilt also made a new hire this offseason, bringing in former Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin.
Both coaches have shown so far that they are up to the task in the area of x’s and o’s. However, both have displayed actions that indicate they might not be ready for the emotional aspect of coaching. This week, both of their current coaching weaknesses were on full display.
James Franklin made headlines this week with his altercation with Georgia Bulldog defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. While fans and media are still debating what exactly happened, there are several clear indictments against Franklin.
Video and photo evidence has surfaced that shows Franklin pointing and apparently yelling at Bulldog safety Shawn Williams. Franklin then aggressively moved toward Grantham and the situation escalated. He then keeps going until he finds Coach Richt. He tells Richt he is upset because Williams was, “rubbing our face in it after the game.”
A head coach does not need to address the actions of an opposing player directly after the game. In this situation, you pick up a phone and call the coach after the game. This was mistake No. 1.
Once the situation escalated and he and Grantham got into a shouting match and players were facing off midfield, what did he do? Instead of defusing the situation and getting the players off the field, he continues to survey the field for Coach Richt. Mistake No. 2. At this point, his main objection should have been to get his players off of the field and out of harm’s way.
So he reaches Coach Richt and tells his side of the story, which came off as whining and unnecessary. Does he now go and get his players off the field? Nope. He then flags down UGA running backs coach Bryan McClendon and rants again.
I can tell you my own personal account, I was in section S of the stadium, and a fight had to be defused in the stands between a UGA fan and a Vandy fan because of the situation. All of this could have been avoided. However, Franklin lacked the level headiness to walk away at any point.
The next day in his Monday press conference, he was asked if he had any regrets.
“I’m not a guy that really has a whole lot of regrets,” Franklin said. “I’m pretty calculated, and I’m pretty well thought out with the things that I do for the most part. I am an emotional guy as you guys know as well. I would have liked the game to end differently.”
It is one thing to lose your emotions during a game. It is another to still sound foolish the day after. He stated he had no regrets and that his actions were calculated. A prepared coach would had stated that he is sorry that it escalated. Not Franklin.
This is not the first time that Franklin has made news in his first season because of his emotions. You might remember that in a postgame press conference following the Ole Miss game, Franklin broke into tears after the victory. Some will say that I am going too far, but this victory was against Ole Miss. A team they beat the season before.
Could you picture Nick Saban breaking down because they won the Iron Bowl? Could you picture Les Miles breaking down because they beat Alabama? How about Mark Richt because they beat Georgia Tech? I am not saying that there is never a time that a coach has not earned the right to cry. However, it is not after beating a team with a losing record that you beat the season prior.
These emotional break downs are not the sign of a good head football coach. He might have the x’s and o’s down, but he has a long way to go in the emotional management area.
Franklin was not the only player to lose his temper this week. Gators coach Will Muschamp yet again had an emotional tirade on a referee. While it is not uncommon for a coach to lose his temper, Muschamp has continued to have one tirade after another.
This week, he was correct on his analysis. The referees did blow the call. However, it is not entirely unfathomable to think that the referees missed the call on purpose because of his past tirades. Muschamp is going to learn the hard way that if he loses his temper this game, it might cost him the next game.
While I do not think that his issues are as deep rooted as Franklin's, he has come off as childish. He must learn that as a head coach he has to pick and choose his battles. He needs to also learn that you have to gain some clout before your rants become effective.
Both coaches have time to improve, but they will need to begin the process quickly.